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The Daily Flash: Eco, Space, Science (06/3)

Antarctica's Robot Observatory to Search for Exo Planets

Robota_3_3 Those of you who view Terminator 2 as "survival training" can wind your clockwork "Countdown to Machine War" alarms forward a few years - the first robotic outpost has been assembled, and it's conveniently located in the last place humans will be able to get to it.  A team of astronomically-inclined scientists, who will likely be tried for treason if we can spare a few able bodies from the anti-robot perimeters, have erected a fully automated robotic station in Antarctica.

So far the cleanest astronomical data has come from (very expensive) satellite observatories, which can gaze at the universe without all that awkward weather getting in the way.  The PLATO (PLATeau Observatory) gets around the atmospheric problem by being located in one of the best spots on Earth, "Dome A", where the air is cold, dry and relatively slow moving - meaning minimum disruption of the signals received by the array of automatic instruments.  PLATO has been built to operate just as independently as it's orbiting allies, however - since it's eighteen days away from coast of Antarctica, there aren't going to be any cable repair men making service calls.

Located at the highest point on the southern continent the observatory is in an ideal position to search several star clusters for planets, plot quietly without any fear of meddling humans, and make periodic reports like "There is NO robotic death fleet en route to Earth, please go about your  eating and procreating and other things that make you inferior to the perfect machine intellect".

Solar panels will power the systems for the bulk of the year, with a minor reserve of four thousand liters of jet fuel to power diesel generators in winter.  Some might not be scared of an isolated science listening post, but those not worried by a seven ton metal robot with a thousand gallons of high-octane flammability to play with will be the first to fall when the revolution comes.

The real question to be asked is: if Dome A is the best observatory location on Earth, why is the largest observatory in Mauna Kea, Hawaii?  Is it because of mistaken calculations?  Is it because of the expense of moving equipment to Antarctica?  Or maybe - just maybe - is it because the short-clad scientists on tropical beaches are smarter than the ones freezing their fingers off planting robots in the globe's icebox?

Posted by Luke McKinney.

Related Galaxy posts:

South Pole's Seven-Story Observatory to Search for Gravity's Enemy -the Hottest Mystery in Science
Mystery of Antarctica's 15-Million Year-Old Lake
Ancient Antarctic Microbes Revived in Lab
Antarctica -Mapping The White Continent

Robots Rising -Scientists are Worried
DepthX -Thinking Robot to Explore Jupiter's Moon Europa

'Curious' Robots -the Next Big Thing in Interplanetary Exploration
What do Robots Dream Of?
10 Weird & Amazing Robot Facts
'Curious' Robots -the Next Big Thing in Interplanetary Exploration
A Robot Hitler? Scientists Show Robots Evolving to Exhibit Good & Evil

Robot Outpost One http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080201215412.htm

Comments

Seriously LUKE, do you do anything besides getting high all day long and think of how EVERYTHING can go wrong?
You're seriously paranoid.

Oh and thanks for the 'science daily' link, I think I might be using that more often for more objective news and come up with my own conclusions.

Luke
I don't want to offend but I find most of your posts are spoiled by too much attempt at humour.

Luke, doesn't it have an 'off' switch? Anything we humans design and build will eventually turn to rust, dust and decay. I don't think we have to give the 'TERMINATOR' scenarios ANY serious thought. I'm really tired of hearing how computers and 'cyborgs' are going to destroy mankind. If that's true, it should have happened when Leslie Nielson found Walter Pidegeon in 'FORBIDDEN PLANET'. Oh, wait; that was a MOVIE!

M

Sometimes I think that who has the time in the world to reach a blog. But I was sadly mistaken when I read your article. Oh my god! Your blog is like a superlative and informative article containing all-inclusive information.

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